The Jewish Folk Bank in Klaipėda


The building in Teatro square has a lot of history: during the interwar period the Jewish Folk Bank operated in this building, and a little while before that – this building was a home for one of the greatest philanthropists of the city – Julius Ludwig Wiener. The Jewish Folk Bank branch in Klaipėda was different from the others for several reasons: first of all, it operated in the area, where Germany’s and Lithuania’s interests met. Even though during the interwar period the Klaipėda region belonged to Lithuania, thus most of the industry still belonged in German hands. We can say that this Jewish Folk Bank’s branch helped to strengthen Lithuania’s economic influence in the region.

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In the middle of the 19th century, the British Hotel operated in this building, owned by a British merchant John Maison. At that time Jewish merchant, philanthropist, and member of the Memel city council – Julius Ludwig Wiener was the most famous resident of the hotel.

The idea to establish the bank was initiated by the group of Jewish businessmen and this idea was fully realized in 1925.  During the interwar period in 1925-1939, the Jewish Folk Bank operated in this building, which functioned as credit cooperation, whose capital was formed mainly from member’s income. The bank provided small loans and sought to encourage local Jewish merchants and craftsmen to invest their money. It is worth mentioning that the bank not only provided financial services but also provided other services to its members – from legal consultations to Lithuanian language courses. The Jewish Folk bank also provided its members with accounting books and other financial documents, published various texts, and even conducted economic research.

The bank was highly successful, however, in 1939 the bank was forced to move to Lithuania after Nazi Germany annexed the Klaipėda region. 


The Jewish Folk bank operated in Klaipėda in several places. In 1925 bank operated in the current day Kepėjų street, near the main market square, however, this building did not survive until our days. Later the bank was moved into the main market square. The last known place where the bank operated was in current day Sukilėlių str., however, the building was destroyed during the Second World War. 


Synagogue of Klaipėda Jewish Community( Žiedų alley 3) 55.703611, 21.139722

Former Jewish Cemetery (Sinagogų str.), 704627, 21.139655

A memorial plaque to R. Valsonok (I. Kanto str. 9) 55.716867, 21.123736

Shelter for Impoverished Merchants(Herkaus Manto str. 23) 55.716514, 21.128275

Education Institute for Girls (Herkaus Manto str. 21) 55.716236, 21.128491

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